INTELS, NPA tussle: Stakeholders call for account reconciliation committee

by Uzoamaka Anagor-Ewuzie

March 15, 2017 | 12:27 am
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Worried by the negative implications of the continuous verbal tussle between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and one of its private partners, INTELS Nigeria Limited, industry stakeholders have identified the need for the Federal Government to set-up an account reconciliation committee to assess the contending issues and make recommendations for onward implementation.

INTELS, which is the concessionaire in charge of Calabar, Warri and the famous Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, which was reported to have remitted over N100 billion into the Federal Government coffer between 2010 to 2016, is also accusing NPA of indebtedness.     

The stakeholders, who said that it was not good to put such private investment into jeopardy over unsubstantiated allegations of financial indebtedness, further noted that setting up reconciliation committee that comprise the officials of NPA and that of INTELS, would help to thrash out all the contending issues and create enabling business environment at ports were both parties operate.    

“We think that the best way to resolve the issue is for government to set up a joint committee to investigate all the allegations and make the appropriate recommendations for implementation. Our worry is that INTELS claimed that it has written the management of NPA on four different occasions demanding NPA to set-up committee to resolve the issue, but NPA is yet to honour that,” said Obikwere Onyeka, a maritime analyst that has been following the development.

Onyeka, who pointed to the fact that NPA and INTELS, were supposed to be partners in port development, stated the need to handle such issues with care as the implications could stir up apathy towards foreign direct investment in Nigeria. 

“I believe that the upcoming 2019 political election is behind this sudden verbal war between the two partners, and this does not depict a good example of Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in port development,” said Bola Adedeji, another maritime operator.

He alleged that the fight has gone beyond a simple interest to protect the economy to involve the fact that both Atiku Abubakar, a stakeholder in INTELS and Nasir el Refai, a fan of Hadiza Bala Usman, are both eyeing the presidential seat in 2019 under the platform of the ruling All Progress Congress (APC) party.    

Also, the Concerned Maritime Professionals (CMP), which described the verbal war between INTELS and NPA as being politically motivated, condemned the war, saying that INTELS has served as a revenue earner for the government for over 30 years of their existence.

Speaking in a letter sent to Yemi Osinbajo, the Acting President copies of which were sighted by BusinessDay, Charles Obi, coordinator of the Group said that the fight was inconsequential as the issue would be better resolved without having to fight on the pages of newspaper.

“Our attention has been drawn to incessant attacks against private terminal operators in the Nigerian maritime industry including INTELS. Without consideration that despite the harsh economic environment, the company has continues to offer world-class services that could compete both nationally and internationally,” he said.

On the issues of business monopoly, Obi, who said INTELS has operated the Oil and Gas Free Zone for over three decades and has contributed to the socio-economic development of the country, also noted that close to 200 international oil companies (IOCs) and oil servicing firms are currently operating in the zone.

“Rather than lynch over each other, both organisations should be given the opportunity to set up a committee to reconcile contentious areas in line with the concession agreement,” the group suggested.

INTELS as one of the port concessionaires won the bid to handle oil and gas cargoes during the port reform and concession exercise that took place in 2006 during the Olusegun Obasanjo region. Onne Free Zone currently has over 30,000 people working directly and indirectly in the various companies operating in the zone.

The concessionaire has transformed the Onne Free Zone into an investors’ haven that has attracted, foreign direct investments (FDI) of over $60 billion to the free zone.

Uzoamaka Anagor-Ewuzie

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by Uzoamaka Anagor-Ewuzie

March 15, 2017 | 12:27 am
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